“The loneliness is palpable.”

My boyfriend turned 33 on Monday. His fellow firefighters got him a birthday cake.

Last night, I went to a preview screening of the fantastic film What Richard Did at The Eye. The movie doesn’t come out until Friday, but I won a pair of tickets that also included a Q&A session with the director, Lenny Abrahamson.

I ended up going by myself.

A preview of possibly the best Irish film of the year – with the director in attendance – and I didn’t have anyone to take with me. I even posted it on Facebook, without any luck. It was definitely one of the low moments of my time in Ireland.

I don’t mind going to movies alone; I do it all the time at home, and I’ve done it three times already since I’ve been here (five if you count the films at the Grace Kelly Film Festival). Still, I was excited to win tickets and it would have been nice to take someone with me.

I do have friends here. I’m dragging one friend to the theatre next week for Steel Magnolias; another sat down with me for lunch at Ard Bia. My classmates are all nice, and I’m meeting more people from Texas than you would ever imagine could be in the west of Ireland at one time.

But I left my whole life behind. I’m not going to get too personal, but my boyfriend and my dog both celebrated birthdays this week back in Texas… and I can’t find someone to go to the movies with me. I’ve come to love my apartment, but it is literally half-empty.

I went to the aquarium the other day, and next to the seahorse tank, there was a sign saying that seahorses mate for life, so you’ll often see them swimming in pairs. In the water though, I could only find one seahorse. I searched the whole tank, peeking through the coral and checking all possible places another seahorse might hide, but there was only the one.

I don’t know if it was male or female, but the seahorse floated near the wall of the tank, up close and personal with its own reflection. Together, they made a lovely pair.

“Maybe I’m lonely; that’s all I’m qualified to be”

I am that seahorse; me and my imaginary friend, bumming around our two-bedroom fish tank. In a way, this is what I want – a quiet place and time to read – but that’s not healthy all the time.

So you get up and you just keep swimming. I spent all day on campus, and was actually pretty social. I hung with my classmates, talked about assignments, and walked back into town with a girl from the student newspaper.

The Galway Theatre Festival is going on right now, so tonight I went to Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe – alone – to see an Irish language production of Pinocchio: A Nightmare (also incredible). The usher asked us to fill in the seats in front first, and there were a few Forrest Gump “seat’s taken” moments as I tried to follow his instructions.  I didn’t burst into tears, but simply moved on to the next row.

One young man turned back around and said “Actually, that one’s open,” pointing to a seat on the other side of him, smack in the middle of the row. I got settled in, and couldn’t help overhearing him speak to his friends in a North American accent.

I was hardly surprised when he mentioned he was from Texas.